Review: Logicomix

Logicomix is the kind of grand experiment I like to see in comics. The creators, Apostolos Doxiadis, Christos Papadimitriou, Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna, approach a mature theme thoughtfully with thorough research and the intent to tell a human story.  There are no capes or supernatural powers to be see.  This is non-fiction or at least topical exploration with sound research behind it.  Through such experiments is the form advanced.

Their topic is the advancements of math and logic in the early part of the 20th century, primarily centered on the work of Bertrand Russell, and how those inform logic as a tool for living a reasoned life.  It’s a fertile set of ideas driven by an interesting set of eccentric characters.  This is a great story to tell.

I think they miss a bit on the execution.  The first problem is one of taste.  They back into the story slowly with a few instances of “well,we’ll tell you about that later.” I understand teasers, and that not every story starts dynamically. In this case I think that because they’re wading into waters that threaten to be abstruse they should grab the reader as quickly and directly as possible.  As I say, this is an issue of taste.  They opt for a slower ramp up and more discursive overall style.  Not a choice I advocate, but not offputting.

More troubling is that large parts of the story never become visually interesting.  The characters are deep thinkers and their work is in the most abstract areas of mathematics, but there has to be a way to involve the reader more visually.  If not, a comic is probably the wrong media to tell the story.  There are many pages of Logicomix that are literally panels that are half characters head and half speech balloon.  I think that’s largely a waste of the power of the comics medium.

This reads as a pretty negative review, but overall Logicomix works to tell a thought-provoking story in a novel way.  I don’t think they were entirely successful, but I think the experiment is worth a look.  I certainly learned from it and was inspired by it.  Don’t let my faint (or non-existent) keep you away.  It is worth reading.


Comments are closed.